ESFA Crown Two New Champions at Meadow Lane

Friday 09 March 2018By ESFA Office

Last Updated:
10/02/2021 11:50:18

The ESFA's Celebration of Girls' Football showed a fantastic amount of support in Nottingham

Yesterday afternoon (8 March) saw the finals of two of the ESFA Under 18 Girls’ Cup Finals, played at Meadow Lane. The ESFA took the opportunity to create a celebration of Girls’ Football on International Women’s Day and invited along two teams of female Match Officials as well as a group of Mascots from Arnold Mill Primary School and two sets of ballgirls from year 5 at Candleby Lane School.

The home of Notts County football club played host to two finals, the first of which put Solihull College against South Gloucestershire and Stroud College in the Girls’ Under 18 Colleges’ Cup. The second match of the day saw Barking Abbey School, Girls’ U18 Schools’ Cup defending champions putting their title on the line against Thomas Telford School.

ESFA U18 Colleges' Cup for Girls

Solihull College 2 - 3 South Gloucestershire & Stroud College

SGS College Raise the Trophy as U18 Colleges' Champions 2018

The opening game in the Schools’ Cup saw a frenzied game of football with attacking play from kick off. In the opening minute Solihull looked to attack down the left with Olivia Nicholls managing to win a corner following a strong start. The game took little time to break into life with an end to end first 15 minutes. South Gloucestershire and Stroud looked to work to ball into wide areas and craft chances at goal which forced their opponents to look to break with pace and direct movement. After capitalising on a lax pass Shania Hayles found herself in on goal looking to open the scoring but was denied by a strong challenge from South Gloucestershire and Stroud captain Grace Riglar, a duel which would become a refrain of this match. In the 17th minute the deadlock was broken after a stramash in the Solihull box which fell kindly for Holly Reed to fire past the keeper. Following the opening goal, the game became more contained and saw the two teams struggle to break down the opposing defence. The match began to open up again after half an hour of play with Shania Hayles beating the defender on the edge of the area with some fast feet, however, the cross would be gathered and used to launch a counter attack. The ball was pinged up the field to craft a one on one opening for Rhianne Oakley which the Solihull keeper would save impressively. The equaliser would come not long after for Solihull, with a South Gloucestershire and Stroud defensive mix up allowing Rhianne Oakley behind the defence wide on the left. A spectacular lobbed shot floated high over the goalkeeper before nestling into the far corner of the net. The first half would end all square with both teams looking to take control of the match in the second half.

The second half would begin in a similar vein to the first, with a high tempo and lots of chances being created. It would not be long before one of those chances would be converted as Rhianne Oakley doubled her tally for the day with a right footed shot beating the goalkeeper after a powerful run down the left side of the field. The games tempo and passion would begin to slow, as the second half continued with both sides conceding fouls but chances still presenting. There were a number of efforts from long range and the leveller would come from Heidi Logan following in on her on effort after a save fell fortunately for her. The final 20 minutes would be a very close affair with so much at stake and eventually a good chance would fall to Shania Hayles to take the lead with only minutes to go but would unfortunately see the ball going wide of its target. The 90 minutes came and the teams were looking at extra time when in injury time with a matter of moments to go Rhianne Oakley managed to find herself able to knock the ball past the Solihull keeper to clinch the crown from South Gloucestershire and Stroud College and take the title of ESFA Under 18 Girls’ Colleges’ Champions back to the south east. The medals and trophies were presented to the girls’ by ESFA Chairman, Owen Aiston and also Sheffield FC ladies and England U19 player Hannah Cain, fresh off the plane back from a successful Young Lionesses event in La Manga.

Sheffield FC and England U19, Hannah Cain, with the Mascots from Arnold Mill Primary School in Nottingham

ESFA U18 Schools' Cup for Girls

Barking Abbey School 3 - 0 Thomas Telford School

Barking Abbey celebrate their win, retaining the title of U18 Schools' Cup Champions for another season

The second game of the day would see the Under 18 Girls’ Schools’ cup contested between Barking Abbey School and Thomas Telford School. The game opened at a very tentative pace with Barking Abbey looking to control possession of the ball. The high pressure and possession game of Barking Abbey was wearing down the defence of Thomas Telford and after 12 minutes of the game, Barking Abbey were able to break the deadlock. Andreya Ezikiel-Meade was able to cut inside from the right and fire a low show into the far bottom corner from the edge of the area. Only three minutes later, Barking Abbey were able to double their lead with a magnificent through ball getting Yasmin Cowley goal side of the Thomas Telford centre back and she was able to sink the ball over the onrushing goalkeeper to double the Barking Abbey lead. As the game moved toward the half hour mark, Thomas Telford were able to establish more of a foothold in the game, however, Barking Abbey were still looking to retain the majority of possession. There were few chances before the half time whistle, with one falling to Yasmin Cowley, who looked to emulate her first chipped goal but the Thomas Telford keeper was able to scramble back and stop the ball short of the line. The third goal of the game would come in one of the last actions before half time with Barking Abbey winning a penalty after a sustained attack in the final third. Kelly Wealthall stepped up confidently to take the spot kick and coolly dispatched it into the bottom right hand corner of the net.

The players would return for the second half with a fresh mind set and this lead to both teams looking to craft intricate passing moves to break down their opponents. As the half moved on there began to be a lot of space behind the two defences for through balls to be played into the attackers. As the half wore on though, the defending champions began to look more and more assured in their game plan. The midfield due of Maizi Garwood and Andreya Ezikiel-Meade worked in tandem to produce a masterclass in ball winning, work rate and passing. The remainder of the half would see both teams craft chances, Thomas Telford managed to test the Barking Abbey goal keeper a number of times and barking abbey would respond in kind. The match would ultimately finish 3-0 to Barking Abbey School and see them retain the Under 18 Girls’ Schools’ Cup National Champions for another year.

The ESFA would like to thank all the supporters from playing teams but also the local primary schools that came along to support the event. Full matches are available to watch on the ESFA TV YouTube channel ( and photos of the event will be available from our Official Photographer, 353 Photography.

We would also like to extend our thanks to Notts County FC for use of their fantastic facilities and hospitality.


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